Preparing your skin for a headshot session

Preparing your skin for a headshot session

A Headshot session is supposed to be you at your absolute best. Your most immaculate, alluring, a straight-up knock-em-dead specimen of talent-filled flawless beauty. Unfortunately, the stresses of modern life mean the harp-strumming angels that reside trapped within our withered physical husks are unlikely to make an appearance. Therefore, we have to work with what we’ve got. Read on to see what the score is…

So you’re staring at your skin in the mirror, and from two inches away it resembles an ancient dried up riverbed somewhere on the equator. Just looking at it makes you thirsty. As you can probably guess, this is not the optimum skin for a headshot session, and before you arrive for the session, and preferably after, you need to be doing things to keep it tip top. Now, you may already know this, in which case, skip this whole post, but if you feel like you could probably brush up on your skincare, and thus increase your chances of a killer headshots, read on, my friends. The advice here was provided personally to me by Johnson & Johnson Beauty Journalist Of The Year, Claire Coleman, so you know it’s good to go. I was expecting some kind of magic tricks, but it’s amazing that the information here is incredibly simple, and mostly just common sense, so there’s no excuse not to do it! And if you already do, then great!

First things first – I don’t need to have my headshots done,  so when you arrive for a session, and in front of you stands I, skin drier than a pebble in the Atacama, accept that I don’t take my own advice. However, this is about you, so follow these tips for better skin.


I know if someone said this to me, I’d wonder if it was possible to have them committed, but trust me! At least in the short term, if you want your skin to be the best it can be for the headshot session, cut down on your alcohol intake and increase your water intake. This alone can have a dramatic effect on your skin. Don’t worry, once the session is over you can head for the nearest pub.


Again, dull. And for that, I’m sorry. But let’s be honest, it’s not like you’re going to be out on the town now that I’ve banned you from drinking! And, you know, if it’s a choice between shit TV, and sleep, you may as well just hit the sack. Nothing dulls the shine of good skin like exhaustion. If you can, try to get a good nights sleep as many days running up to the headshot session as possible.


This is one of the most important. You need to cleanse your face daily. The build up of grime that occurs in the course of an average person’s day is the number one culprit for crap skin. Slathering up a bar of Imperial Leather isn’t going to cut it, either. That stuff’ll dry you out faster than a visit to the Betty Ford Clinic. Instead plump for a liquid/gel-based wash that is suitable for your skin-type. Use it at night to get rid of all the day’s grime!


 Once you’ve washed all the grease off, you have to lock in the moisture. Do this every evening. Again, get one that is correct for your skin type. Don’t go getting an oil-based one if your skin is naturally greasy, and don’t be tempted to spend a ton of dough, either. Moisturisers don’t have to be expensive.


Exfoliating is a great way to clear dead skin sells from your face and neck, but if you’re going to do it, do it at least a week before your session, just in case you have an allergic reaction. It can and does happen. I can retouch with the best of them, but if you come into the session looking like you’ve been sleeping on a cheese grater, I’m going to struggle!


As much as we love to bask, the sun is not our friend. It is a relentless ball of infernal nuclear reactions, spewing almost unlimited amounts of UV radiation directly at our faces for over 12 hours a day. That tan may look great now, but it won’t do in 30 years when your face looks like an abandoned workman’s boot. Solution: Grab yourself an SPF day moisturiser.  The skin and the sun are not friends. Think of the skin as a pleasant little goldfish in a cute round bowl, and the sun as a murderous arsehole feline, hell-bent on being a dick. Perched maniacally over the rim of the bowl, scooping and clawing at the delicate little fish with wild abandon. Now imagine that goldfish actually thinking the cat was doing it a favour! That’s you that is!


So you’ve woken up on the morning of the shoot and you’ve got a spot. LEAVE IT! Do not be tempted to pop it, you’ll make it worse. What you need to do is not worry about it, because it can be removed in retouching. It isn’t critical to the shoot and it will not mess with the flow of the session. However, if you are one of those people, like me,, who absolutely cannot leave the house with a white head threatening to erupt like some kind of greasy Vesuvius, then head over to The Body Shop and buy one of their spot-popping tools for a couple of quid. They work, and they work without leaving you looking like you tried to pop it with a hedge trimmer blindfolded. Popping your spots is like eating baked beans. You wouldn’t use your fingers, would you?


That’s really all there is to it. When I asked Claire for the info on this (I didn’t want to make a post like this without professional advice), I really was expecting to get some crazy secret recipes and formulas that nobody had ever heard of. It’s amazing though, because it’s the common sense stuff that really works. It turns out there is no secret. There’s no elixir, potion, tonic or spell that will give you great skin. Drink water, wash, moisturise, and get a good night’s sleep, and you’re good to go!

Follow these steps in as far out from the session as you can manage, and your headshots are going to be great. You’ll also make my life much easier!

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